"Anastasia's obsession with Rasputin is holding back our work. Exos are our future. In time—and with a little push—she'll see." —Clovis Bray I
"Oh my God, Elsie! You're gorgeous!"
She throws her arms around you, and you taste the sodium laurate in her shampoo and the long-chain fatty acids in the rosehip oil that lingers from her girlfriend's kiss, and it is all so good. You hug her as hard as she can be hugged. It's the first time. You cannot remember ever touching her before.
Ana murmurs in the place where you once had an ear. "Before you ask if I'm mad, of course I'm not. It was your right to keep it secret."
"Thank you," you breathe (don't breathe; can't breathe). "Grandfather told me he wasn't even sure that I had the—the disease. Until recently."
"Are you sure you actually had it?" Ana's pretending to tease, but there is a pang of real fear in her voice. "Maybe he faked the diagnosis. To get you into this body. Did you run the tests yourself?"
"I can't remember," you admit.
"Right, right, of course. I read the letter." Ana draws away, holds you by the shoulders. "Elsie, what matters is that you're going to be around forever. We have so much to do! We can finally climb Olympus Mons. And after we summit, I can push you off a cliff and watch you stick the landing."
Her smile is infectious. The light in your mouth reflects in her eyes.